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IBM Power Systems firmware updates

20/05/2021
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Rudi van Helvoirt

Keeping your server firmware up-to-date on a supported version can increase the reliability and availability of your system. That is why it is important to be properly informed about firmware versions and the updating process.

IBM Power Systems firmware update explained

IBM Power Systems server firmware is identified by its release level and version. Every 6 to 8 months, a new version is introduced, while several levels of that version are maintained simultaneously. Updates are made available on a regular basis. The longer a server has been available on the market, the lower the new release frequency. When a server switches from one release to another, it is necessary to IPL the server. This is called a “disruptive update”. However, upgrading the version within a release level is referred to as a “concurrent update”. To complicate matters further, it is also possible for a new version to contain updates that cannot be applied to a running system. In that case, we use the term “deferred updates”, in which the updates will only be activated during a server IPL and are displayed as “pending” on the HMC.

When should I update my IBM Power Systems firmware?

IBM recommends upgrading to a new release every year and loading a new version every six months. At some point in time, IBM will freeze the Power Systems firmware release and version. It goes without saying that from that moment on updating is no longer an option. You can use the link below to access a wizard that will provide information on what to do in that regard. Please keep in mind that HMC code does not support each firmware code version.

Updating HMC code and FSP firmware are both discussed in the information provided in the links above. It is advised to think of the updating process as one single project in order to prevent the HMC and FSP from getting out of sync and the HMC being unable to manage the FSP.

How to update IBM Power Systems firmware?

Updating both the HMC and FSP can be done via the Internet or by using an FTP server. Because updating with a USB flash drive inevitably means you have to be physically present, it is not my preferred option. It is more time consuming for me, because the USB flash drive has to be removed again, which is not the best use of time – in particular now that more and more systems are located elsewhere. It can be done remotely, so why not make use of this possibility? In view of the advice to update the HMC and FSP, I think it is not a wise decision to just install both the HMC and FSP and leave it at that. Unfortunately, that is a situation I encounter more often than I like to admit. However, I will not deny that updating the HMC and FSP is difficult the very first time, but who said system management was easy?

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